Serving in the name of Jesus

A notepad its on a desk near a pen, laptop and phone
 on September 1, 2017

God is good. I have seen God at work through our vocational deacons in Trent-Durham. We can see them wearing their stoles over their hearts, from left shoulder to right hip, with their hands free to serve in caring for the poor, the marginalized, the sick and the lonely.

Deacon Frank Tyrell has been doing ministry in the Lindsay jail for years. Kind-hearted and plain-spoken, with a great sense of humour, he had been building up the church by doing very active volunteer ministry all over the diocese. He began with a tentative step in the concrete corridors of corrections when his bishop asked him to do outreach in this under-serviced institution. In spite of his initial trepidation, a whole new world opened to Deacon Frank, a world of people who are facing uncertainty, awaiting trial dates, deportation, citizenship hearings, and some who are serving out sentences.

One day at the end of May, I went to visit him. We were scheduled to lead two services, but these things are always in flux in the jail environment, where surprise searches and outbreaks of sickness are common. As it happened, the first service was to a single female in her jail-issued forest green tracksuit. We read the Bible together, prayed and spent time in community – Deacon Frank, Duty-Chaplain Heather, the inmate and me. The second service was more popular – it seemed that this was a good opportunity to get out of the usual routine. Eleven men in their orange jumpsuits shuffled into the chapel and found their seats. Frank welcomed them and introduced me. It was such a privilege to accompany Frank in this way, to share with the prisoners that they are not forgotten by the church and by those on the outside. As we left, driving out of the parking lot, I was poignantly aware of my freedom. I am deeply grateful to those, like Frank, who bring hope as they minister in the prison system.

On a hot day in July, Deacon Christian Harvey was on the move in Peterborough. He is a young, dynamic father of two, a community-builder and preacher, who has a heart for people and a passion for drumming. One might not think that there are many people living on the streets in this small city, but there are. Increasingly, housing is precarious and jobs are hard to find. Deacon Christian, who grew up in Peterborough, has dedicated himself to ministering to those on the margins of this community. He and his team have walked the streets in good weather and bad, delivering countless lunches and fresh water to drink. With Christian’s vision and leadership, St. John the Evangelist church and several community agencies of Peterborough have developed the Warming Room Community Ministries and One Roof Community Center, providing safe space for overnight shelters and community drop-in centers.

On this particular day, I join Christian as he heads to “A Hole In The Fence” for lunch. This is not a fancy cafe but indeed a hole in the fence, down by the railway track, where there is a constant group of hungry, transient people who all know Christian by name. He brings a word of friendship and lends his cellphone to a young woman who calls her Dad. We hand out lunches and prepare to move along. As we were leaving, I was surprised by an older man with a long grey beard and a gruff voice, who said firmly to me, “The peace of the Lord be always with you.” As any good Anglican would respond, I muttered, “And also with you?”

These are just two snapshots of wonderful ministries being undertaken in the name of Jesus, who calls us to serve. The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25. 37-40, reminds us to see the face of our Lord in the faces of those we serve:

“‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

There are so many ways to serve. How are you called?


Keep on reading

Skip to content